WOLF LAKE — Ann Katherine "Kay" Schaefer, 73, of Wolf Lake, passed away peacefully Jan. 27, 2020, after a brief battle with cancer.
Kay was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the only daughter of the late Harry J. and Ann Katherine (Wilson) Hall. She attended the University of Missouri and later was proud to receive her degree in healthcare management from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In 1975, Kay married the love of her life, Richard B. Schaefer of Linn, Missouri, at the Old Cathedral under the Arch in St. Louis.
Kay leaves her beloved husband, Dick, and their four children, along with nine grandchildren: daughter, Kathy and her husband, Vinny Morris of Poughkeepsie, New York, and grandchildren Joe and Kate; daughter, Mary Ann and her husband, Andrew Degginger of Granby, Colorado, and grandchildren, Micah, Luke and Riley (who is now playing with Grandma in heaven); daughter, Jenny and her husband, Matt Reiman of Belleville, and grandson, Henry; and son, Doug and his wife, Sherry (Whitehead) of Columbia, Missouri, and grandchildren, Oscar, Emmett, Liam, and one grandbaby who has not yet arrived.
It's hard to summarize Kay's happy and love-filled life in just a few words. She was devoted to Dick, and they weathered challenges together. She loved her children and grandchildren and made it her priority to spend time with them. She was also active in her community and church, sharing her joy and time wherever she could. You would often find Kay organizing an event, large meal or volunteer project.
Though she was raised in St. Louis, Kay made Wolf Lake and Southern Illinois her home, and she made her house the “place to be,” taking in and feeding many of her children's Shawnee HS teammates and friends between school activities. She served as American mom to three exchange students: Youko (Japan) and Marcia and Laura (both from Costa Rica), and she opened her heart to neighbors who she felt could use her encouragement.
“Ms. Kay” leaves the legacy of changing the lives of many people through her volunteer work. She established the award-winning Swamp Rats 4-H club in Wolf Lake, broadening the horizons of dozens of children and giving them a way to be recognized for their skills and talents through projects, public speaking, cultural exchange opportunities and trips to a range of interesting events and locations, including the Illinois State Fair and the World's Fair.
While she held many work positions in her career, the one closest to her heart was volunteering to share her love of reading. She served as an adult literacy tutor and as a volunteer librarian. For a long period she was working at three libraries at one time! She also made it her mission to send as many books as possible to her grandchildren and any other baby or child she met.
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Kay and Dick had many adventures together, traveling to spend time with their children and grandchildren and to represent the family business, Schaefer Enterprises, at industry events. For many years, Kay and Dick enjoyed ballroom dancing with a great group of friends.
She was an active member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Anna, where she sang in the choir and was happy to share her faith with new members and as godmother to several. Kay loved music and playing the piano, and she passed this love to her children and grandchildren, along with the love of Christmas, Kay's favorite holiday.
Kay had an innate and overwhelming positive outlook, and she worked her whole life to share that with everyone she met. Kay was loved and will be greatly missed by her family and friends, and she will be remembered most for making a difference, in big ways and small, in the lives of everyone with whom she came in contact.
Kay is survived by stepsiblings, Judy Newby, Karen and Curt Hamacher of Lake Ozark, Missouri, and Richard and Judy Asel of Plano, Texas, along with in-laws Joan and Leo Fisher of Thebes, Lillian Luckenotte of Holts Summit, Missouri, Bob and Esther Schaefer of Frankenstein, Missouri, Jerry and Judy Schaefer of Wolf Lake, Eugene Schaefer of Cypress, Susan and Jim Evers of Holts Summit, Missouri, Tom and Susan Schaefer of Columbia, Missouri; many nieces and nephews; and her dear friend and fellow Diet Coke lover Adalee Davie of Wolf Lake.
Kay was preceded in death by her parents and stepmother, Mary Hall, along with Riley Degginger; in-laws, Bets and Ed Thoenen, Jim Luckenotte, Albert Schaefer, and Sharon Schaefer; and her family is glad they are welcoming her in heaven.
Kay's family is grateful for the help and support of so many family members and friends, especially Jerry and Judy Schaefer, Janice Peters, Steve Luckenotte and Nick Schaefer.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. today, Jan. 31, at Rendleman and Hileman in Anna. Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, in St. Mary Catholic Church, also in Anna, with Father Steven Beatty and Uriel Salamanca officiating. Interment will be in the Jonesboro Cemetery.
Memorial gifts in memory of Kay can be made to the Friends of Stinson Library in Anna. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home and the church.
To leave online condolences for the family, visit www.rendlemanhilemanfh.com.